Review: Triangle Volante 260 Speaker

Category: Speakers

The Triangle "Volante 260" retails for around $6500-$7000 (it's French, so we're in the volatile world of the Euro -- check the Forex quotes before you call your dealer). I bought mine as demos, for $5000: the pair has a couple of tiny dings in the cabinets, which I don't mind, since I can think of better things to do with $1500-$2000 than contemplate cosmetic perfection in a couple of wooden boxes. I got them for the sound. In one specific sense, they are the best loudspeakers I have ever had in my rather normal-sized apartment living room. First, some background about how my criteria for judging such things have evolved over the years.

After 40 years of pursuing the dream of getting something close to live sound into my room, I still ask myself, "What do you expect a loudspeaker to do?" Do you expect some miraculous transformation of your system from a device that, at its best, spews out 100 times more distortion than the cheapest amplifier? This, after having owned Altec Lansing A-7's, KLH 9's (superb electrostatics that had a dynamic range of about 85-90db -- below that, you heard nothing, and above it, too much), JBL Paragons, Klipschorns, and, in a time closer to the present, Mirage M1-si's, a couple of B&W floor-standers, the original Triangle Celius, and the arm-and-a-leg expensive Dynaudio Evidence (purchased used, or I'd be writing this from bankruptcy court). Even though front-end components and amplifiers are important, we just want them to drive our chosen speakers with some degree of neutrality: it's the speakers that determine 90% of the sound's "character," no matter what you hear about partnering components. Then there is the software. No two CD's sound alike; no two speakers sound alike. About 2000 CD's later, and more vinyl than that, I'm still impressed by the fact that, no matter WHAT you play them through, about a third of your software will sound superb, another third so-so, and the remainder like something akin to a car wreck. Buy new speakers? All you do is shuffle the categories: you still get the same range of bad-to-mediocre-to-excellent, but with different discs occupying the slots. You like "mellow," realizing that a lot of your CD's seem a bit "hot" on top lately? Change to speakers voiced to the mellow side. Recordings that used to sound too bright will now sound fine. But the mellow ones you used to love now have turned to sonic sludge. Take the Dynaudio pair, located in a large (over 7000 cubic feet) room in a different residence: they are so good as to be transcendent on the best recordings, better than merely so-so with the middle third, and...yes, terrible with the others. But I LIKE some of those "bad" recordings. If you don't have this dilemma, you probably just play the software that sounds good on your system, and the rest of it gathers dust or gets frisbeed. This brings me to the rather modest system I now enjoy in my 26'x 13'x 8' apartment living room, when I'm in town for a concert at Disney Hall (or for anything else you can do only "in town"), a system anchored by the Volantes.

More than any other speaker I have ever owned, the Volante elevates the rotten bottom of my collection to a new cagegory -- listenable and enjoyable. True, the other categories have changed, but only slightly -- they're still in the sweet spot. The Volante makes more music sound better than ANY speaker I have ever heard. I know, I know -- you're thinking, "There must be some sort of distortion or omission that evens the playing field," right? I don't think so, because the best recordings still sound the's just that the worst are no longer annoying enough TO DETRACT FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF THE MUSIC. The second best speakers I have ever owned, in this particular sense, were the Celius pair, which I sold (reluctantly). The Volante keeps the Celius' strong points -- openness, transparency, a huge soundstage (with well-defined images within it), the ability to express wide dynamic contrasts, and an indefinable sense of midrange immediacy. Just call that last "presence," manifested most noticeably in the clarity of brass, woodwinds, percussion, and plucked instruments, as they emerge from the massed strings of a full symphony orchestra. What the Volante adds to this mix is a sense of weight and mid-bass authority, and perhaps a bit of refinement in the treble-upper midrange region. Also, a bit more space to the rear corners of the soundstage: the Volante is partially "bipolar," in that the midrange driver and tweeter you see on the front baffle are duplicated on the back of each speaker. What about the Dynaudio, you say? -- the $80,000 wonder that is ruler-flat from below 20Hz to above 30KHz? I don't regret having gotten them one bit, especially at the discount price I paid for a used pair. They are unbelievably fine. Majestic. Stunning. But there are about 500 recordings I won't play through them: it's just too tragic to hear those ungodly moans, groans, thuds, screeches, and booms coming out of such magnificent boxes.

So how does the Volante do it? I can only guess, not being technically competent enough to analyze the guts of the design. First, they are extremely sensitive -- spec'd by the manufacturer at 93db. The impedance doesn't go below 4 ohms. That means, compared to the other speakers I have owned recently, they have a better chance to optimize the ruler-flat response traces exhibited by nearly all modern amplifiers. In my 2900 cubic-foot living room, 25 watts does as well as 250. I mean that literally. Amplifiers, we all know, are either optimized or degraded by what they "see" in the speakers they drive. All the other speakers I've heard recently (save the Celius) have been less sensitive and thus more difficult for the amplifiers to drive to potential. The Mirages had terrific bass, for example; but, at 83db sensitivity and 1-2 ohm dips in the impedance curve, they punished every amplifier I tried with them so severely that even SLIGHTLY overcooked recordings, particularly in the bass, were made worse by the amplifier/speaker interaction. Of course, these kinds of irregularities tend to spread all the way through the response range. And the Dynaudio pair isn't much better (again, WITH POOR SOFTWARE): I doubt, still, that I have the right amplifier for those beasts.

Second, the Volante has an absolutely magical midrange. Since many recordings are overcooked at the frequency extremes, probably to accomodate the cheap gear most folks play them through, speakers that measure flat can make them sound recessed and overly polite through most of the midrange, and screechy and boomy at the extremes. You turn them up to make them more dynamic in the mids, and the screech and boom become intolerable: you've turned up the distortion as well. In terms of the highs, I'm not just referring to the treble region, but the 4000 to 8000 Hz region, too: we hear this range as "highs," even though it is classified as "upper-midrange." I haven't seen response curves on the Volantes, but they may have just the right emphasis in the 800 to 1200 Hz area to bring them to life with ALL recordings, and balance things out with the bad ones. Again, the old Altecs, JBLs, and Klipschorns could put a needle through your brain, with their emphases on the upper-midrange, even with old tube gear, and the Mirages and Dynaudios can be very annoying with recordings that are thus boosted. The Volante's designer lists its frequency response as +/- 3db, 35-20,000 Hz, but we all know this number is essentially meaningless. The "art" in the difficult task of designing an outstanding speaker lies precisely in the myriad smaller decisions the designer makes by listening and tweaking, once the basic design is technically feasible. M. Renaud de Vergnette must listen to a lot of live music and do a lot of comparing to all manner of recordings; I cannot imagine a more neutral design for normal listening rooms than the Volante.

Third, the Volante can "disappear," leaving only a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling duplication of instruments playing and voices singing in space. I suspect the rear-firing drivers enhance this speaker's wonderful ability to re-create the depth captured on the recording, but the Celius had a similar ability, so, again, maybe M. de Vergnette just knows what he's doing. It is amazing what great soundstaging can do to minimize damage done in other aspects of the recording process. After all, live music, in a bad venue, can sound boomy and shrill, too. And, again, you don't need $20,000 worth of amplifiers, a collection of wires that only a neurotic billionaire could be proud of, and some magical AC cords to get great sound out of these speakers.

Fourth, they are absolutely grain-free. Absolutely. Now, some recordings have managed to create their own special recipes of hash, but the Volante will contribute none of its own. None. This goes back to the midrange magic, I believe, since a lot of garbage inhabits that critical 4000 to 8000 Hz frequency zone.

Finally, they are not too ambitious in trying to get at the bottom octave. There is NOTHING on a commercial recording below 30-35 Hz that I want to hear. 40 years of chasing the dream have taught me this. Owning the Mirages and the Dynaudios has reinforced the same old dilemma: unless you have a library of perfectly recorded master tapes, almost all of what comes out of a speaker below 30-35 Hz is not only garbage, but ruinous to anything else on the recording that has been done right. Distortion moves up through the frequency spectrum, and there are a lot of 70-100 Hz humps in a lot of good speakers -- all that last octave does is compound the boom that is more easily noticed higher up. After all, the lowest fundamentals in a symphony orchestra, excluding things you beat with some manner of club, are around 40 Hz. The Volante will go low on your best recordings, but won't exaggerate the boom on your worst. More on this in a moment.

I have tried to convey what I feel is so special about these speakers -- the way they have with recordings you might otherwise cringe at. They DO, by the way, sound terrific with average-to-outstanding software. But that's not so unique, these days: I need something I can play while sober with any recording in the house. In my experience, THAT's what is so unique about the Volante. Some examples. "Rule, Britania"(CD, Nimbus, NI 5155, John Wallace on the trumpet, the English Festival Orchestra, William Boughton conducting) sounds like some guilty pleasure, but it's really a superbly performed, badly miked and equalized, collection celebrating the 17th Century English patriotic spirit as expressed by, among others, Jeremiah Clarke, Henry Purcell, Handel, and Arne. You wanna see every Brit in your local pub pop to attention? Take this baby, stuff it in the portable behind the bar, and play Arne's complete version of "Rule, Britania." But buy a couple of rounds for the house, first: the chorus and orchestra are recessed, so when you crank in enough gain to hear them, the bass becomes thick, and the highs will peel paint off the walls, varnish off the floor, and lipstick off the pint glasses. Is it too hot on the Volante? Of course it is! The engineer probably stood too close to a Howitzer during artillery practice. Yet, it IS listenable. You can even enjoy it! I couldn't get halfway through this collection of banshees on the Mirages, which I owned when I bought the CD, and I have the good sense not to try it on the Dynaudios. I could apply the above statements to just about any of the 200 or so Deutsche Grammophon recordings I own, both vinyl and CD. There's more. The performance I prefer most of the Mahler 5th is an EMI Classics reissue (a twofer, $10 for 2 CD's, including a magnificent "Das Lied Von Der Erde"), with Klaus Tennstedt leading the London Philharmonic (5 74849 2). After the opening fanfare, the double basses, tympani, cymbals, and kitchen sink come in, FFFF. WHOOMPH!, says the Mirages (and Dynaudios -- I actually had the temerity to try this recording on the bigger system). Unlistenable. I thought my living room had been invaded by rhinos. The Volantes? Beautiful. You could actually separate out instruments. A tad heavy, but still musical. Plummy, as they say in the mags. The miracle of it all is that ordinary bass sounds plenty deep on my other recordings. Now, I DO miss SOME of the last bit of visceral impact you get with the bass drum and/or pipe organ on 3 or 4 (no, I do NOT mean 10 or 20) of the recordings I've heard that properly capture this phenomenon. But I want to play EVERYTHING, and the Volante allows me to do this without bracing myself. I don't have a lot of rock music, but these speakers are plenty dramatic on Meat Loaf, The Doors, Credence Clearwater, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and Bonnie Raitt (gaffer rock, I suppose -- go ahead, laugh...but at least I made it to retirement with both ears still attached and functioning). There is no lack of bass sock, and boyoboy do these babies capture the vocals. As is the case with all good systems, the singers are 5-6 feet tall and right between the crosshairs. No rasp or chestiness unless the singer is having a bad day.

One quick mention of the good stuff. I just found a pristine version of "88 Basin Street," the one made recently famous by JVC's outstanding XRCD remake. The vinyl (PABLO 2310-901)is better, but only slightly so, in that special way vinyl has with the indescribables. In my smaller room, the Volante does this as well as the Dynaudio does in the bigger room. I get just as good a "picture" with this modest set-up as I do with the whole hog. All members of the band are exactly in place, the drums are rear left, the piano is out front, each soloist enters from his own space. To be fair, I doubt I could get a comparable effect setting the Volantes up in a 7000 cubic foot room, but how many of you folks out there have one of those? Another example. Benjamin Britten conducting his own "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," "Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge," and "Simple Symphony." Again, a recent JVC XRCD reissue of an album I have in one of the vinyl versions (London "Jubilee," 417 509-1). This is as good as a full orchestral recording gets, and the Volante conveys it all. Period. No system I have ever heard does it better, and I have trucked this album (both versions) all over California, listening to it in various "salons" (don't you love that word? "Where's the bathroom?", I always say, "so I don't have to pee on your salon floor..."). Admittedly, in the larger space, the Dynaudio can do well-recorded full symphony orchestras "bigger," with more dramatic effect because of its unrestrained ability to go loud, but one has to deal with ordinary rooms and software most often.

In my 26'x 13'x 8' apartment living room, I have them firing down the length, almost exactly 6' from the rear wall (measured from the rear of the boxes to the wall), and almost exactly 3'from each side wall (measured from the center of the tweeter to the wall), which makes them about 7' apart. I listen, usually, about 10'-12' from the speakers, but they sound fine from just about anywhere. They are quite holographic: as you move around in the room it is somewhat analogous to changing seats in a concert hall -- the orchestra stays in place, while you hear it from different angles. When I first set them up, I felt that, closer to the rear and side walls, they sounded less neutral (I COULD make the bass somewhat boomy by moving them closer to the rear wall, and if I got them too close to the side walls, the upper midrange lost some openness and got a little clangy -- you'll have to give these some breathing space, out into the room). As for appearance, I like simple things, so I think they're quite handsome. They're just boxes, but nicely finished.

One last word. BREAK THEM IN! You will hear hints of their greatness (my opinion, obviously) in bits and pieces, but you'll also hear some congestion, 2-dimensionality, midrange suckout, "dryness," and other aberrations until you get at least 500 hours on them. They NEVER sound "bad," but break-in is a process: different changes will occur and recur as you go through that process. I used a combination of music and the brown noise track of the Ayre break-in CD ("Irrational but Efficacious"). The bass will be the last to come around. It will not "bloom" until you have a LOT of hours on them. I believe it was Wes Phillips who coined the term, "gringo hips." Perfect. I have been playing the hell out of mine for 6 months, and, I swear, the bass still seems to be going lower and becoming more expansive. This is inconvenient, but if you judge them too soon, you may be disappointed. Just as an aside, I wonder if Paul Messenger, in his review of the Triangle Magellan Concerto (March Stereophile), which is similarly-sized but a MUCH more expensive system than the Volante, had enough time to FULLY break those speakers in. Time is an unattainable luxury when you are a professional reviewer, I imagine, and some of the "dryness" and "matter-of-fact" lack of "drama" he noticed could have been due to the necessity to move on before these were ready to come alive. Just a thought.

Let me repeat the main point of all this. I am in the process of culling out the best third or so of my collection, in terms of sound quality. I am going to either buy new copies or duplicate them, and take THOSE to my place in the mountains above Lake Tahoe and pig out. I'm going to blast them through the Dynaudios in levels audible to folks from Sacramento to Plumas County. That's what they do -- play loud and undistorted, and they are ruler-flat in a room big enough to hold them. I hope nobody minds, and the people who protect the hearing of bears don't have me locked up. I get excited just thinking about it: I have dreamed all my life of a system like this one. If you think I'm stupid, with misplaced values, fine...just remember, I drive an $11,000 Honda, not a $40,000 SUV, and mine was paid for 3 years ago. And I ain't buyin' another one. But when I come to Los Angeles, I'm going to hear MORE music, and enjoy it just as much, in my little one-bedroom apartment with the Volantes.

Associated gear
Musical Fidelity A308cr Preamplifier, A3.2cr Power Amplifier, TriVista 21 DAC.
Sony SCD-777ES SACD player, Basis 1400 turntable+Rega RB300 arm+Benz M-09-0 cartridge, Meridian 508-24 CD player (used as transport), AudioQuest cables, Audio Innovations Series 1000 monoblock amplifiers (class A operation, 50 watts per side, EL-34's), Cinepro Powerpro 20 Line Conditioner (balanced power), Fanfare FT-1A tuner.

Similar products
Triangle Celius, Mirage M1-si's, Dynaudio Evidence (recent loudspeakers I have owned or still own).

Showing 7 responses by gkcc3

Thanks for your comments. Maybe I didn't define "character" precisely enough. When you think of "character" as the distinctive tone, or timbre, of a system, as opposed to "quality," which would bring excellence, or truth to the source into play, I still think at least 90% comes out of the speaker: it is a lot easier to change the character of the sound by changing speakers than it is to keep speakers you don't like that much, and change the sound by changing amps, wires, CD players, and analog equipment. I DO, however, agree heartily with you about GIGO: you will never get the potential EXCELLENCE out of speakers 'til you pay attention
to what's hooked up to 'em. I hear quite a difference, for example, between the tube and solid state amps, and when I changed from Tara labs to Audio Quest, I heard an improvement in soundstaging AND timbre...the upper bass improved. Of course, the more transparent the speaker, the more you'll hear when you change the ancillary components. When I had the Klipschorns I loved everything about them except that damned upper-midrange shriek. I tried all manner of tubes (SET's even), pucks, cones, wires, room treatments, etc., etc., etc. Nothing could change them.
I think the Triangles are compatible with more equipment than some other brands are because they are so efficient and let all the virtues of a good amp to come through. I have never tried them with cheap or mediocre equipment...I'm sure the sound would suffer, because they are open windows. I AM a bit puzzled as to why the Volante sounds so GOOD with recordings I used to hate. All I could do in the review was speculate.
Do you bi-amp the Naias? I heard them when I was looking for the Volante. I thought they sounded terrific, noticeably better than the original Celius. I am wondering if I would gain anything by bi-amping the Volantes. I thought about tubes on top and the Musical Fidelity on the bottom, but I'm such a twit when it comes to fiddling with the hardware I would probably blow something up.
I have had the Revel Salons ($20,000) in my living room, also the Coincident Total Victory (over $11,000, I believe).
Neither got me as close to what I remember from my last night at Disney Hall as the Volantes. Neither. I think all the Triangles are screaming bargains, although I haven't heard the Magellan Concertos... I even thought the Magellans were a good deal, based on my limited exposure in a showroom, when compared to the $50,000 and up speakers out there. I think the whole line has a kind of "life" that transcends the electronics and boxes. I wasn't kidding when I said I'll probably enjoy MORE music on the Volantes than I will on the Dynaudios, at less than 1/10 the price. These babies can compete with ANYBODY.
Thanks, again...and good luck/happy listening with your system.
Thanks, Eee3...I may try it with the Musical Fidelity A3.2cr: I checked the instruction manual after reading your second post. These power amps have line output jacks on the back, just like a preamp. All you do is get another set of interconnects and hook a second amp up to the first one. Since I can get a demo or used A3.2cr for around $1200 or so, I think I'll do it. Even a boob such as I can plug in a couple of interconnects, right? Still, if you hear or read of a suspected terrorist attack, due to a large explosion and power outage in an LA apartment building, you'll know it was my doing ...
Eee3: thanks for the tip about turn-on! I might well have turned them on together. I take it, you mean turn one on, leave it on long enough for the caps to fill and settle, then turn the other one one, right? Since my current cables are rigged for double bi-wire (single at the amp end and double at the speaker end), I just MAY try the Triangle premium cable when I bi-amp...the "Silver Ghost," I think they call it. I currently use the old Audio Quest "Argent," which in the mid-nineties (when I bought it) sounded more neutral and open than anything out there, clearly beating the Tara Labs "Reference Generation 2" that I had, not only in neutrality, but in bass control, transparency, and spaciousness. These are silver, and since then I haven't dared to get any cable that isn't silver. Thanks again.
In a sense, you are absolutely correct. I have heard $120,000 Wilsons, $90,000 JM Labs, and, of course, the $80,000 Dynaudios (I bought them for less than a third of that price, used): none of them "sounded like music at all."
None. To get from the concert hall to your living room just involves too many steps -- you end up with the copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, ad infinitum. However, the Volante sounds more LIKE music, with more software (the point of my comments), than any other speaker I have had in my room. I can't respond to your comment because I don't know exactly what you heard (sounds like the Magellan Concerto, which lists for $20,000...not the top of the Triangle line) or, within the context of my review, what you played through them... not to mention what kind of set-up the dealer used, or whether or not the speakers had been properly burned in. I HAVE heard the Magellan, which retails for $36,000, and I thought it sounded as good as or better than any other "state of the art" attempt by any other manufacturer.
My reference for "good" is the live concerts I attend (and have attended) at various concert halls around the world, most recently at Disney Hall, where I have enjoyed season tickets the last 2 years and will enjoy them again next season. Since the comedown from "live" to the BEST, state-of-the-art systems is SO huge, one has to reconstruct the experiences from memory and allow for the bad software.
Plus, we all "remember" differently, which means we all have a different reference to the real thing. And we individually get annoyed by different deviations from "live": you might hear a lack (or superabundance) of bass in the imitations, while I might hear a lack (or superabundance) of upper-midrange "presence." Different ears, different wiring in the brain, different emotional hot-buttons...that's why you see/hear so many different approaches to system design among even the most prestigious and expensive manufacturers.
I'm glad you reached what sounds like a definite opinion, negative or not:I'm not trying to sell you my pair, nor is anyone paying me to drum up sales. But MY Triangles are the Volantes, and, hell, maybe they're better than the more expensive models you heard: they're better with more discs than anything I'VE ever heard. Period. Thanks for the response and happy whatever you listen to or through whatever equipement you prefer.
Thanks for the comments. In the real world, you have to put software in to get music out, and this interface isn't always pleasant. I think all Triangle speakers have a way with more varieties of software (i.e., genre as well as engineering quality) than most brands I have encountered. I can only conclude it's in the midrange/tweeter interface.
I LOVED the Celius, especially with the "Sub Espace" I bought for the deepest octave. I just put the crossover filter to its lowest setting (40Hz), to avoid "doubling up" with the Celius' response in the 60Hz-90Hz region. Have you thought of something like this with the Titus? Often, the less bass the better, but at least you can turn a separate sub off when the software gets too boomy.
You aren't the first music lover I have heard comment positively on the Audience speakers...I guess I gotta hear 'em! Maybe they'll show up at a dealer somewhere in Southern California.
I have always bi-wired, since I first tried it with the Mirages back in ' improved them so much I have assumed it's the only way to go, even though M. de Vergnette (Triangle's owner and designer) says it's unnecessary with his speakers. I use the (old, now-discontinued) Audioquest Argent speaker cables: they sound as good to my ears, even now, as other cables by Nordost, Synergistic,, that cost 10 times (!!) as much as my double bi-wire pair (6' for $1200 in 1995, spade terminations). If a used set ever pops up, you should try 'em. They are silver. Triangle now makes a partially silver cable (the "Silver Ghost," I believe it's called), but I haven't checked out the price. Tellig loved it, if that means anything. Again, nice to hear from you and happy listening!
I am updating this because I changed my room treatment approach. I used to have acoustic foam on the side walls, in the audiophile-approved spots for ameliorating slap-echo effects and the like. I purchased 3 Argent "Acoustic Lens" units -- about $400 each. This product was positively reviewed by a Jonathan Scull at Stereophile a while back -- about 3 or 4 years ago, I think. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, each unit consists of 3 PVC-looking black tubes, of slightly different diameters (about 3") and about 6' tall, set into a base made of a proprietary material that looks similar to plastic or MDF (Argent calls it "dark matter" and has designed a few speaker cabinets with it). They are supposed to act like Helmholtz Resonators, "swirling" the sound waves about to diffuse them evenly into the room, thus breaking up the standing waves and echo effects that tend to haunt untreated, acoustically "hard" rooms. This has allowed me to trash the acoustic foam and, in a sense, get the best of both worlds -- realistic presence and snap without the penalties of hardness or excessive treble bite or etch. The differences are subtle, but the system is now DEFINITELY a touch more realistic.
I heard a live performance of the Mahler 4th Symphony at Disney Hall 2 weeks ago (Jonathan Nott conducting the LA Philharmonic) from perfect, I DO mean perfect, seats... twelve rows from the front, dead center. The sheer perfection of the performance moved me to tears, and I wasn't the only one in the joint bawling throughout the last 2 movements. I am normally quite restrained, especially in public, but this was perfection. Nott is recording/has recorded this and other Mahler (I believe he is doing a complete cycle). Run, do not walk, to your nearest CD/record dealer. This conductor is special. Now, to the point. After a concert (naturally, as a music/audio nutcase), I usually like to play the material I just heard live on my home system, to try to prolong an enjoyable evening, to see how memorex stacks up against live, and to bemoan the inevitable shortcomings of all music systems when compared to fresh memories of live music. I have the Reiner RCA recording of the Mahler 4th that I bought in the '60's (it is also available on CD, SACD, and a new vinyl reissue). Of course, the live was, well, "live," by comparison, even via the already-fading memory of the actual event, and the best systems always suffer in such comparisons. I was, however, surprised to hear the same sonic characteristics -- smoothness, huge dynamics, violins that sounded like gut (as opposed to steel), enormous width and depth of soundstage, brass, woodwinds, and percussion that jumped realistically out of the overall orchestral fabric. It was all there. Even a slight elevation of the 80-100 Hz region that I was somewhat surprised to notice in the live concert. This is by far the best comparison between live and recorded I have ever heard, anywhere, period. So the Volante 260's are GOOD. The Argent Room Lens is definitely worth the money: they are easy to move around, if you want to experiment, but they sound best where the manufacturer recommends putting them (2 of them flanking the speakers to the outside and slightly forward, the 3rd centered to the rear, halfway between the speakers and the boundary wall to their rear).
I also heard the new Celius ES in a dealer showroom. I thought they sounded wonderful, especially for the price, but the Volantes play "bigger," with more and better bass, and can play louder and more dynamically. As I remember, I liked the old Celius better than the new one, but memory is tricky in these matters. It may be because I had the Celius subwoofer augmenting the older models, and the new ES had no such advantage. Still, I remember a certain spaciousness, and a very realistic "blattiness" (sass? swagger?) with the old Celius that just added SO much life to the music, especially with jazz and full orchestral music. If you can't afford to go up into the 5-7 grand range for speakers, I don't know how you could do any better than the old Celius with good (I DO mean GOOD!) subwoofers, set up well out into the room, with the subwoofers back to the rear. This allows for a tremendous sense of front-to-back depth of soundstage, and ALL Triangles WILL do the disappearing act. I think the "too bright" tag is totally undeserved if you set the speakers out into the room: I think some reviewers have heard a kind of thinness, because of the lack of deep bass, and have become fixated on that aspect of the sound, without trying a sub or experimenting with room placement. I am a 49+ year veteran of MANY concert halls, and I will flat-out tell you that NO Triangle speakers are "too bright" if you take some care setting them up. As a parting shot, my Dynaudio Evidences are "brighter" than any Triangle I have ever heard, but they are flat to 20 Hz, so full-range music puts the treble in a balanced context. And THIS much hasn't changed: the Volantes sound better ON MORE SOFTWARE than the big-time Dynaudios.
Gerald Clifton
Hello, independent. I am referring to the "Master," which I just recently sold, for a couple hundred or so more than I paid for it. I just got tired of diddling with it. Some people enjoy dinking around with their systems, but I am not among them -- I really am in it for the music. I had the room for the big Dynaudio and even had the room "done" (cost me about 12 grand) to optimize the acoustics. Still too many recordings that, quite frankly, I couldn't enjoy as much through these "state-of-the-art" beauties as I could through the Volantes. And trying to get the right amp, wire, and source components was turning into a nightmare. There is a time to cut your losses, and that's what I did. I go to a LOT of live orchestral concerts (season tickets to Disney Hall, plus occasional sojourns to San Francisco, New York, and Boston) and my more modest Triangles just captured more of the life and dynamics, with FAR more recordings, of real music than the big Dynaudios. I think this is the dirty little secret of all things audiophile: if you REALLY love music, less than 10% of your collection of various discs and/or tapes can handle state-of-the-art transparency. You have to play SOMETHING through those impressive boxes, and the odds greatly favor the recording being compromised. Right now, I am looking into the Triangle Magellan to replace the Dynaudio Evidence Master. From what I have heard, it isn't nearly as merciless as the big Dynaudio and has midrange magic similar to the Volante and (to a lesser degree), the Celius.